Oliver Younger is out to make up for lost time as he looks to hit the ground running in pre-season.
The teenage defender suffered an injury-hit campaign with the Clarets’ Under-23s last season to stall the progress that had seen him secure a two-year professional deal in the summer of 2018 after being named as the club’s Young Player of the Year.
An impressive start to the 2018/19 Professional Development League season under Michael Duff and then Steve Stone had taken Younger to the fringes of the Clarets’ first-team squad before succession of hamstring problems forced him onto the sidelines from the turn of the year.
But the Skipton-born centre-back is now fully recovered and working hard at the U23s’ training camp in Poland to be in a position to re-state his case when the real thing starts again next month.
“I was gutted to get injured and in the second half of the season I think I played once or twice,” said Younger.
“It holds you back, but I had to keep my head down, keep strong and get back fit and then have a good pre-season and crack on from there and get some games under my belt.
“I don’t know what the plan will be – whether I’ll go out on loan – but I just want to play some games.
“I think we have a good group of players and obviously Steve and the staff are very good together with us.
“We finished fourth last year and I think we can do as well again, if not better, with some of the players we’ve got and I’m looking forward to it.
“It was a good season for the team. It would have been nice to have won something and to have achieved something but as a group we did well and gave ourselves something to build on.”
The emergence of Bobby Thomas from the youth team has added to the competition for places at centre-back in Stone’s squad, with Scott Wilson also having extended his stay by signing a first professional contract in the summer.
Younger knows he needs to resume his upward curve which, hopefully, an injury-free run and a sequence of games will allow him to do.
And he takes inspiration from other young players who have made the big break-through at Burnley and beyond as he looks to progress to the senior ranks.
“Every year is a big year and this year for me, coming into the last year of my contract, I really need to kick on and do well and get another contract, hopefully, at the end of it,” added the 19-year-old, who has spent a decade in the Clarets’ Academy system.
“If you do well and catch the eye of the gaffer. It just takes one or two opinions that you are a good player and have a bit about you and then as long as you do well and take your opportunity there’s no holding back.
“You don’t know what can happen. I think Marcus Rashford is a good example of that at Manchester United, as well.”